summer proves to be long
after another short winter

the drought blows through
and July mocks us
fills the sky
with dry cottonwood pollen
cruelly mimicking snow

below Guardsman Pass
I wonder what prayers
are possible

I cannot look
the mountains in the eye
they’ve seen too much

the silver mine has long since
bled out
but the only evidence of violence
are sunken shacks
bleaching in the sun

the trees hold each other up
huddling together in the wind
gray pines have succumbed

the green
cling forlornly on

white aspen tremble in the heat
telling us an invisible hunger
eats the forest

down, first, to where
shades of miners linger
whispering over warm gravel
on the cold banks of Shadow Lake
watering horses
in the murk of a tailings pond

the horses are blind
from the black
worked too hard underground
and now their milky eyes
are wrapped in gauze
they give no directions
and we must turn away
climbing for a better place
to see

instead of answers
we find a dead deer
fallen across the trail
no bullet holes
no blood
not even a fly

only blank, pewter eyes
fixed on a distant peak
offering reflections
refusing, even in death,
to look away

(July 9, 2015)